When Standardized Test Prep Courses Don’t Work
Standardized test prep courses can be extremely valuable. For students with limited experience taking standardized tests, standardized test prep courses are often necessary. As colleges weigh one straight-A student’s ACT score against another straight-A student’s ACT score, standardized test prep courses can often be the deciding factor.
Why We Use Standardized Tests:
Standardized tests provide colleges with a "level playing field" from which they can evaluate students, according to CLC College Prep Services. In our recent blog post about automatic admission, we discussed the need for colleges to fairly compare students from differing high schools. Standardized test, while imperfect, certainly do that.
Standardized Test Prep Courses Can Help Students Prepare:
With the college admissions game becoming more and more competitive by the minute, students and parents should try to learn as much as possible about the various different methods standardized test prep courses employ to prepare students for these exams.
Commercialized standardized test prep courses are extremely popular. These classes usually require students do thousands of problems until they eventually get more and more of them right.
Most of them are taught in small group classes (10-12 students) or online, with rotating instructors. Commercialized test prep teachers are generally those who scored well on their standardized tests - no teaching credentials or training necessary!
When Commercialized Standardized Test Prep Courses Don't Work:
Sometimes, one-size-fits-all standardized test prep courses work. Often they do not. They are not the right fit for every student. Many students, especially those who go to smaller schools (and are used to more individualized attention) or those who are too busy to spend hours doing a million practice problems will find these classes are inadequate for their needs.
Another kind of standardized test prep course is a targeted, “boutique” style, where trained coaches evaluate the types of questions a student consistently misses, and then review the thinking behind those specific question types. This kind of class is often one-on-one or has no more than 5-7 students in it. When you're shopping around for the best standardized test prep course, it's always good to ask how targeted and individualized the course is.
Boutique standardized test prep course coaches are often trained teachers who have experience working with all different types of students and learning differences. If you excel in smaller, more personalized settings, and you’d rather not spend thousands of hours doing a million practice problems, this is probably the right type of standardized test prep course for you.